If Friday and Saturday night were any indication of what's to come, it's going to be a long Southeast Conference volleyball season for anyone who doesn't have Juneau across their jersey.
Juneau-Douglas (2-0, 2-0) demolished Ketchikan (2-2, 2-2) both nights, sweeping all six games comfortably in the Crimson Bears' season- and conference-opening series.
JDHS won Saturday's three games to the tune of 25-15, 25-16 and 25-7, and senior outside hitter Daffodil Alinson was far and away the best player on the court.
Aside from off of a block, Alinson scored just about every way possible, mixing impressive kills with a soft touch at the net, while scoring an ace and playing stout defense with seven digs on the back row.
"(Coach Sandi Wagner) has really been telling us to mix it up, and I could tell that the defense was moving back because I kept hitting it right at them," Alinson said. "Sandi had me work on keeping the ball in front of me so when I go up to hit it, I can see the entire court. I think I really did that tonight and I could see the open spots so I dinked it in."
Almost as impressive as Alinson's play was the fact JDHS had to win both nights while short-handed. Senior middle blocker Sarah Tarver missed both matches, and senior setter Vika Toetuu was absent Friday.
"We were missing Sarah and she's one of our key players. We depend on her when we're down - she's like our safety net -o we were really had to step it up today," Alinson said. "We had to really focus on our form and ever since the season started, we've been working on our fundamentals, like keeping your arms straight and passing, and doing our approaches.
"I think we brought everything that we've learned together in this game. It was way better than (Friday) night."
The Bears started off Game 1 with an ace by senior setter Megan Hart, and JDHS went up 4-1 early. Ketchikan caught up and tied the game at 4-all, but the Kings then committed three straight unforced errors.
JDHS began to pull away after Ketchikan moved within 2, 9-7. Alinson blasted a kill that landed right on the back line to begin a stretch that saw the Bears score 11 of 13 points. Hart mixed in an ace and seniors Taylor Larson and Amanda Roemeling tag-teamed a free ball stuff to highlight the run.
Up 23-15, Alinson placed a dink over the top of the front line, and senior defensive specialist Kalea Chapman aced game point for JDHS.
Another ace by Hart gave the Bears an early 4-0 lead in Game 2. Two straight points cut the deficit in half at 6-3, but Alinson again blasted a kill to begin a stretch that saw JDHS score 5 of 6. Alinson got another kill, followed by a free ball stuff and then a kill by senior middle blocker Maria Weyhrauch.
Another big kill by Alinson doubled Ketchikan up at 12-6, and then junior outside hitter Krista Bontrager scored a wipe, followed by an ace by senior defensive specialist Megan Mauseth and a dink by Bontrager for an 18-8 Bears lead.
The Kings scored five straight but all momentum stopped there after Larson smashed a vicious kill, followed by two Roemeling aces for a 22-13 JDHS lead. Mauseth scored a free ball, followed by an Alinson kill, and game point came on a service error by Ketchikan.
Game 3 was no contest.
JDHS led 7-2, 12-3 and 20-5 before scoring the last five points. Bontrager scored scored up front, followed a by a monster kill by Larson, an ace by Mauseth, a Bontrager stuff of a free ball after a JDHS serve, and senior outside hitter Keaunna Miller scored a wipe for match point.
Wagner was pleased overall but there is a lot left to work on, she said.
"I see that we are making the changes we're asking the kids to make, we're playing better each week and we still have some things to work on, but I was pleased with what I saw," she said. "We're not as effective on our blocks as I would like us to be.
"Changing what we do defensively according to what is happening on the other side of the net - we don't adjust very quickly with that yet," is another area for improvement, Wagner added. "And offensively, we need to make better choices both hitting-wise and setting-wise. But this is all part of playing and learning."
Alinson finished with 12 kills to lead the way for JDHS. Bontrager had six kills and Larson five. Hart had five aces and Roemeling four on the night. Roemeling also had nine digs, Chapman eight and Mauseth six.
Friday wasn't much better for the Kings, as the Bears won 25-12, 25-12 and 25-14.
Miller, seniors Megan Moskito and Chelsea Flint all saw their first varsity action. Roemeling saw her first extended time on the court after entering a game once last year to serve.
Alinson and Larson had six kills each to lead the attack. Alinson also had 11 digs, followed by Mauseth and Chapman, who each had eight. Hart and Roemeling each chipped in six digs.
Chapman also served up five aces.
JDHS takes on Thunder Mountain (0-2, 0-2) next weekend.
The JV Bears also pulled off a Friday-Saturday sweep, winning 25-17, 25-6 and 25-15 Friday, and 25-7, 25-22 and 25-7 on Saturday. Moskito had six aces Saturday, and Chelsea Flint led the offense with 12 kills.
Friday, the JDHS C Team won 25-16, 25-15 and 25-20, and swept Ketchikan again on Saturday, 25-10, 25-20 and 25-15.